MLB 11 The Show
Sports titles are packed with different game modes, but given their short development cycles, sometimes it takes developers years before they make major changes to the structure of a particular mode. If you're a big fan of the Road to the Show, this is your year. Rather than make a few subtle tweaks to its popular MLB career mode, Sony is giving it a major overhaul. The first big change applies to the player creator.
In past creators you were given a blank slate and a bunch of experience points to add wherever you saw fit. This year, Sony is introducing dynamic interactive sliders to help you better tailor your slugger or pitcher. Before you're given attribute points to juice up your prospect, the game presents you with three adjustable sliders that help determine your playing style. For pitchers, the sliders are stamina vs. power, control vs. movement, and pitching repetoire vs. dominant pitch. By moving the sliders across the 100-point scales, you can create drastically different players. If you want to create an innings eater like Carl Pavano, you'd move the sliders toward stamina, control, and pitching repetiore. If you want a power thrower with one pitch to rule them all like Stephen Strasburg, you'd move the sliders toward power, movement, and dominant pitch. Position players have sliders for power vs. contact, glove vs. arm, and speed vs. strength.
Previous Road to the Show modes guided players with dynamic goals that changed every game. Some of the goals, like avoid striking out, seemed obvious. Others, like the coach telling you to take the first pitch, seemed arbitrary. Rather than tweak the logic, Sony decided to scrap the system altogether in favor of a new player performance evaluator. This new logic system tracks your every at-bat or pitching match-up and assigns you a grade for each one. At the end of the game, your overall grade determines the amount of skill points you receive. The evaluator understands the subtleties of the sport better than the dynamic goals ever did; if you foul off nine pitches before popping out, the game knows this is a good at-bat because you stressed the pitcher, and it rewards you appropriately. The same applies to pitching; you're not going to get as many points for striking out a batter on 10 pitches as you would for getting a batter to ground out in three pitches.
If you're struggling with a particular aspect of pitching or batting, the evaluator is smart enough to notice the trend and offer you a training session. Position players can jump into the batting cage to work on their contact, timing, pitch recognition, and plate discipline. Pitchers can receive training for ball location, learning when to throw specific pitches, and how to deal a knockout pitch to the batter.
Once you're on the diamond, your climb to the majors begins with a new advancement system. Now the your player is called up or sent down based on your performance and those of the prospects and pros above and below you on the organizational depth chart. If you're on a hot streak and the guy above you is struggling, the GM may decide to give you a shot at unseating him in the big leagues. If you're going though a rough patch and a youngster is tearing up AAA, you may find yourself on the bus back to minor league ball.
MLB 10 was one of the best looking sports games ever, but with improvements like a new lighting engine, dynamic cloud cover, better transitions from day to night, new stadium fireworks, authentic jumbotrons for each ballpark, and more natural looking player models, MLB 11 is poised to outshine its predecessor. Sony also also recorded several new post-pitch animations and new batter/pitcher walkups. Rounding out the changes to the presentation, former slugger Eric Karros replaces Rex Hudler as the color commentator.
The franchise mode is also receiving some attention. Sony has reworked the trade and waiver wire logic so teams analyze their rosters more realistically; don't expect teams to trade away surefire aces like David Price. To keep you abreast of league happenings during the season, Sony has added a ticker that displays scores and stats from the other league games.
If all these changes come together with the new analog controls, baseball fans will be in for another great outing when MLB 11 hits shelves this March.